Adopt-A-Star Programs in Museums and Planetariums

Name A Star Live is a unique name-a-star service in that we launch our customers’ star names into space.  When you name a star with us, you are made part of a real space mission!

In fact, there are many star-naming companies.  But did you know that a number of science museums and planetariums have “adopt-a-star” programs as well?

Like Name A Star Live, adopt-a-star programs typically provide customers a star certificate displaying the name of the star, as well as a star chart showing the star’s location within its constellation (area of the night sky).  Some organizations, such as the DuPont Planetarium at the University of South Carolina, will display the names of its customers on kiosks. Other planetariums even display adopted star names on planetarium ceilings.

Adopt-A-Star programs have been particularly popular in Australia and New Zealand.  The Sydney Observatory has a “Name A Star” program that helps fund the observatory’s heritage and collection program.  Perth Observatory, the Australian National University’s Mount Stromlo Observatory, and the Stardome Observatory in Auckland, New Zealand have all used adopt-a-star programs to raise funds for their educational facilities.

In fact, shortly before our 2009 Whetū Flight launch from New Zealand, an astronomer with the Stardome Observatory discussed the popularity of star-naming.  See his comments in the following New Zealand television report about the Whetū Flight:

The adopt-a-star programs are all certainly worthwhile.  But again, Name A Star Live is the only star-naming service that launches your star name into space.  After the launch occurs we provide you a Launch Certificate via the Internet.  Usually you can watch the launch online.   Many of our missions have been flown on rockets carrying student payloads.  This unique space experience is enhanced by our Virtual Planetarium™ space and astronomy software, developed by Rice University and the Houston Museum of Natural Science.  And our Ultimate Children’s and Stargazers’ gift sets help children and adults develop a lifelong interest in astronomy!

How We Launch Your Star Name Into Space

New Frontier Flight launch
Launch of The New Frontier Flight, 2:44 am CDT, May 22, 2012 from Cape Canaveral, Florida. Click the image above to view launch video provided by our sister company, Celestis, Inc. Image Credit: NASA

Many of our customers ask us, “What is this launch thing you do?  How do you launch my star name into space?  How does that all work?”

In principle, it’s rather simple.  But in practice, it’s rather complex.

Each Name A Star Live customer gets a letter-size Star Certificate that displays the name of their star, an optional personal message, and the astronomical coordinates of their star.  We store this information in our database.  We then save that database onto a computer chip, which is then placed inside a rocket.

That’s the easy part.  Arranging for, and conducting the launches is the difficult part!

Our parent company, Space Services, Inc., has contracted with various launch service providers to launch our payloads from locations around the world.  Space Services missions have blasted off from the Canary Islands, Florida, New Mexico, California, New Zealand, and even a tiny, remote island in the Pacific Ocean.

We fly as a “secondary payload” on board rockets with commercial or scientific”primary payloads,” such as communications satellites.  As a secondary payload, we have no control over when liftoff will occur.  Indeed, launch delays are common in the aerospace industry, and there are a variety of reasons that cause such delays.  For example, if there is a technical problem with the launch vehicle, or with the primary payload, we must wait until the problem is fixed before liftoff can occur.

Our payload — the computer chip that contains our database of star names, messages and astronomical coordinates — must be placed in the rocket at least weeks, and sometimes months, ahead of time.  For our November 2012 launch, we must provide our payload to the launch services provider in October 2012 — a relatively short time period.  Hence, we have a mid-October deadline for customers to name stars for inclusion on this mission.  But for our New Frontier Flight that flew into Earth orbit May 22, 2012,  we had to deliver our database back in October 2011 — approximately eight months prior to liftoff.

Being a part of a real space mission is very important to many of our customers: After the launch takes place, we provide each of our customers a complimentary Digital Launch Certificate, certifying their participation in the mission.  Usually, customers can travel to the launch site to view the launch in person.  We also are often able to webcast the liftoff live, via our website.

We do our best to keep our customers informed of the latest launch news.  We update our online launch schedule as soon as events warrant.  We encourage all of our customers to follow our launch news on FacebookInstagram and Twitter.  And, of course, we issue our monthly e-newsletters.

Despite the many problems we must overcome to launch your star name into space, we enjoy providing this service: Spaceflight is our passion, and so we very much appreciate your participation.  After all, it is your purchase of Name A Star Live gift sets that help us pay for these missions into the final frontier!

New Zealand launch coming up!

One of the ways Name A Star Live makes star-naming real is by launching your star name into space: You become part of a real space mission! Our last launch was in May 2009 from Spaceport America, New Mexico. Our next launch will occur on board Rocket Lab’s new Ātea-1 rocket — the first rocket to launch into space from New Zealand.

Atea-1 engine testThe Ātea-1 is a two-stage vehicle capable of carrying payloads of 4.4 lbs (2 kg) up to 75 miles (120 km) altitude. The rocket is a sub-orbital vehicle, meaning it carries its payload into space and then returns to Earth. The picture at left is of a recent engine test.

Rocket Lab Ltd. is designing its rockets to be environmentally-friendly. An average car produces approximately 2,000 kg of C02 per year, (based on 5,000 miles of traveling). A single Ātea rocket produces under 14 kg of C02 per launch.

All Name A Star Live customers who have purchased before November 16, 2009 will have their star names and Star Certificate personal messages on board this launch. After the launch occurs we will provide you a Launch Certificate via e-mail, certifying your participation in this historic space mission!

Launch is projected to occur the week beginning Nov. 30 (New Zealand time), which is Nov. 29 in the United States. The exact date and time is weather dependent. Please see our Launch Schedule Web page for the latest launch news.

Top Ten Star Messages

As part of our launch of this Name A Star Live blog, we are including a monthly feature where we list the top ten interesting messages our customers have included on their star certificates during the past month.  (Of course, we remove the names and other personal information from the messages before posting them here.)   Each Name A Star Live Gift Set includes a letter-size star certificate that displays the name of the star, astronomical information about the star, and an area where you can include a breif personal message for your gift recipient.

Here are some notable messages our customers wrote in July:

  1. To be a star, you must shine your own light, follow your own path, and don’t worry about the darkness, for that is when the stars shine brightest.  You are a star to me.  I love you!
  2. Thank you for your “out of this world” performance!
  3. This is just a little gift to demonstrate my love for you and that our love will always be in the sky, somewhere, living among the many other wonders of this universe.
  4. This star is dedicated to our marriage.  This star will forever sparkle, as our love for each other.  I love you.
  5. Congratulations on 30 years together!  May your star shine brightly forever.  All my love.
  6. In loving memory of your priceless little star.  May she long watch over you both until you all meet again….  With our sincerest condolences.
  7. Hope you had a beautiful christening!  May you always shine as bright as your star.  We love you!
  8. To the one I love the most in this galaxy.  Happy first year anniversary.
  9. Happy Birthday Star Lady!!!
  10. The Sun, the Moon, the Earth, and Mars,  Galaxies, Comets, Planets, and Pulsars,  All, my dear Gran, will be blessed by the star  I’ve named after you, the best Gran by far.

Be sure to check out our new Twitter and Facebook pages where we’ll keep you up-to-date on all things Name A Star Live!